THE GLORY OF WAR
written of the beauty of peace; but I now want to write of the glory of war,
for war has its glories. Anything that arouses man to the highest pitch of
enthusiasm is glorious; for what is glory but a radiation of light, a burst
of that life which is the Sun in man?
I regret this war. The suffering, the agony, the torment that I
have seen and have felt through sympathy, have left their marks upon me; but
had I remained in the safety of the neutral stars I should have missed the
glory of the fight.
Man had grown too tame, without acquiring the virtues of
tameness; but this war has served the purpose of the gods by hurling man
into the primitive, the savage, where life had its roots, but from which the
sap flows that will blossom later in such a faith as the world has never
Suffering and joy are forever opposite and
equal. Man may rest for a time in the neutral condition of a well-fed
half-consciousness; but when the extremes of suffering and joy come to him,
he is no longer half-conscious, but awake and alive, and glory shines round
Could the Masters have prevented this war? They could have
retarded it; but the causes were present in the hearts of men, in the
invisible forces within them as well as outside them, and to have further
delayed the explosion would have served no planetary purpose.
The men who are not dead are more alive than they were twelve
months ago, and even the so-called dead are living-dead.
We pushed back the forces of evil, yes; but that was a part of
the struggle, that was the struggle in our world.
Let me tell you the story of one man whom I knew in the days of
peace. He was well-fed and half-asleep with prosperity, he prattled mild
commonplaces about life, and ethics, and the duties of a citizen; but what
did he really know of life, or of ethics, or of the duties of a citizen?
We will call him Johnson. He has been in
this war some months, a fighter for England, and the integrity of England;
and now when he speaks of life his speech has meaning, because life to him
now is the opposite and mate of death. He feels enthusiasm for it, the glory
of it shines round him.
Johnson had a son, an only child. Fathers will know what I mean.
In the great retreat in which Johnson was one of the leaders his
son fell before his eyes—wounded but not dead. For one swift heartbeat the
father turned to his boy . . . then he went on with his command that
otherwise would have been leaderless, leaving his only child to the tender
mercies of an army drunk with the pitiless glory of conquerors.
Johnson will never again prattle commonplaces about life. He has
learned the meaning of death, and of tortured uncertainty far worse than
(This letter was left unfinished—for no
reason apparent to me.—Editor.)